The Quest to Make a True Blue M&M

In the last couple of years a number of the big packaged food companies have started an effort to remove artificial dyes from their products. This sounds like a pretty good deal, right? For consumers it certainly is but the food companies it’s been a difficult task.

One of the big advantages of using artificial dyes is their predictability, something lacking from dyes made from natural sources. Particularly difficult is the color blue, which is rare in nature to being with. Candy company Mars has spent years developing a blue M&M based on natural blue dye and they’re still at it.

Dilbert creator Scott Adams gets Trump like no one else

It’s true, Dilbert creator Scott Adams gets Trump like no one else. This is in no small part to Adams being a narcissist of the highest order. In other words, it takes one to know one.

Let me tell you a story. The group weblog I’ve been a member of since 2001, Metafilter, once had a less than laudatory posting on Adams and Dilbert. Adams created a fake account (aka sockpuppet) to defend himself in the comments and of course denied he had done so. That, my friends, is the kind of person Scott Adams is.

No wonder we’re being hit by Internet of Things botnets. Ever tried patching a Thing?

As the recent attack on Brian Krebs shows, the Internet of Things is seriously vulnerable to hijack. What makes that even more concerning is even when owners of IoT devices want to update it may not even be possible and it is seldom easy. Until that changes, botnets of IoT devices are going to be used more and more to silence voices on the net.

The implications of the massive DDOS on KrebsOnSecurity

Brian Krebs writes one of the best security blogs out there. He frequently names the bad guys behind attacks and data theft. Recently he published a series of articles on a company that does DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) attacks for profit. Two weeks after the first article appeared he reported a massive and sustained DDOS attack on his site. At its peak it reached over 620 gigabits per second, by far the largest such attack ever seen.

The attackers were able to mount such a large attack by harnessing the so-called Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Many of these have buggy software and few are ever patched by their manufacturers. Given their great numbers and easy compromise it’s possible to create an online army bigger than anyone could before. And it’s likely that army will be used to silence voices on the Internet more and more in the future. We jabber on and on about free speech on the net but unless we take steps to defend it we won’t have it much longer.

The Genetics of Beer Yeast

Scientists in Belgium took a look at over 150 beer yeast strains to trace their genetic lineage. Their findings show that beer yeasts began to differentiate themselves from their wild counterparts in the 1500s, which was around the time that monastic brewers began the practice of using the sediment from one batch to inoculate the next. Interestingly, this was long before Louis Pasteur discovered the role of yeast in fermentation.

You’re How Old? We’ll Be in Touch

For someone in the over-50 age bracket ageism isn’t just a word is something you have to deal with on a regular basis, particularly when you’re looking for employment. It’s illegal, of course, but extremely easy to get away with under the guise of “over-qualified” or “doesn’t fit with our culture” yet…

Not one negative stereotype about older workers holds up under scrutiny. Abundant data show that they’re reliable, handle stress well, master new skills and are the most engaged of all workers when offered the chance to grow and advance on the job. Older people might take longer to accomplish a given task, but they make fewer mistakes. They take longer to recover from injury but hurt themselves less often. It’s a wash. Motivation and effort affect output far more than age does.

It’s time we looked at older workers as no less valuable than anyone else and make sure our definition diversity includes age.